Membership Spotlight: Ylabs



To kick off our 2021 membership spotlight series, the Self-Care Trailblazer Group is focusing on YLabs, a team of physicians, designers, economists, developers, public health professionals, and educators working to design programs that address global problems facing youth.  Learn more from YLab’s Lauryn Claassen, Marketing and Communications Lead. 

Tell us a bit about your organization

Youth Development Labs (YLabs) is a leading global design and research organization that works to improve health and economic opportunity for young people worldwide. We all know that adolescence is a critical window of opportunity to influence behavior, growth, and development – but young people are still systematically excluded from the design of health and economic solutions that are meant for them. 

At YLabs, we use youth-centered design methodology in order to create programs and services WITH young people, not FOR young people. Since our founding, we have focused on the challenges that matter most to youth, leading us to specialize in HIV/AIDS, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and economic inclusion. To date, we have worked in 15 countries on projects that put young people at the center of the entire process. Some recent projects include work aimed at increasing the uptake of contraceptives through digital self-care in Rwanda, exploring pleasure-based sex education in Central America, and addressing mental health through the media in the US. You can dig into our current projects here

Why do you consider self-care to be a vital part of healthcare systems?

We believe that self-care and direct-to-consumer programs and platforms can be instrumental in alleviating strains on existing systems, increasing care-seeking behavior, and create a youth-friendly entry point into the formal healthcare ecosystem. They should be an integrated part of the healthcare system because they are solutions hiding in plain sight. 

YLabs, Kigali Rwanda

Just as a food delivery service can bring your favorite take-out or grocery products to your front door, self-care platforms can deliver life-saving information and products to people who need them the most – from emergency contraception to sexual education to mental health support.

For example, YLabs has been working with young people, community members, and health providers over the past four years to develop self-care approaches that combine engaging, youth-focused health information with a direct linkage to health products and services. Through our CyberRwanda project, young people can access accurate, fact-based information designed for them, and then order family planning and menstrual hygiene products online for pick-up at a local pharmacy of their choice.  Medical screening can be done in advance, which minimizes interaction between the health care provider and young person, unless additional information is required. This saves time, decreases barriers to access, and eases pressure on overstretched health-care providers. We also work with providers on how to deliver youth-friendly care to support young people seeking health services and products. 

How does YLabs believe self-care can reach youth?
YLabs, Kigali Rwanda

Digital self-care platforms are a great way to reach youth because they allow them to access information and services on their own time. Young people value privacy and self-care platforms can be used where and when they choose; on their own device, or on a borrowed device. When done right, digital self-care platforms can also provide information in a more engaging, interactive, and informative way. As we continue to see a rise in both digital access and the availability of lo (IVR/USSD) and hi-fi (Smartphone) options, we know that young people will want to use digital devices when they can.

This desirability has the potential for long term health and wellness benefits. If we introduce health information that young people want and need, in a format that is appealing to them, we can create a point of entry into the health care system and encourage life long wellness. 

If you’d like to learn more about our self-care projects, youth-driven methodology, or just have more GIFs in your feed, follow us @YLabsGlobal or subscribe to our newsletter

Banner image: YLabs, Kigali Rwanda


The Future of Work

With overarching commitments to flexibility in our work, and greater wellbeing for our employees, we want to ensure PSI is positioned for success with a global and holistic view of talent. Under our new “work from (almost) anywhere,” or “WFAA” philosophy, we are making the necessary investments to be an employer of record in more than half of U.S. states, and consider the U.S. as one single labor market for salary purposes. Globally, we recognize the need to compete for talent everywhere; we maintain a talent center in Nairobi and a mini-hub in Abidjan. PSI also already works with our Dutch-based European partner, PSI Europe, and we’re creating a virtual talent center in the UK.


Meaningful Youth Engagement

PSI is firmly committed to the meaningful engagement of young people in our work. As signatories of the Global Consensus Statement on Meaningful Adolescent & Youth Engagement, PSI affirms that young people have a fundamental right to actively and meaningfully engage in all matters that affect their lives. PSI’s commitments aim to serve and partner with diverse young people from 10-24 years, and we have prioritized ethics and integrity in our approach. Read more about our commitments to the three core principles of respect, justice and Do No Harm in the Commitment to Ethics in Youth-Powered Design. And read more about how we are bringing our words to action in our ICPD+25 commitment, Elevating Youth Voices, Building Youth Skills for Health Design.


Zero Tolerance for Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking

PSI works to ensure that its operations and supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking. Read more about this commitment in our policy statement, endorsed by the PSI Board of Directors.



Since 2017, PSI has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a commitment to align strategies and operations with universal principles of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Read about PSI’s commitment to the UN Global Compact here.


Environmental Sustainability

The health of PSI’s consumers is inextricably linked to the health of our planet. That’s why we’ve joined the Climate Accountability in Development as part of our commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Read about our commitment to environmental sustainability.


Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity

PSI does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, genetic information, disability, protected veteran status or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Read our full affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policy here.


Zero Tolerance for Discrimination and Harassment

PSI is committed to establishing and maintaining a work environment that fosters harmonious, productive working relationships and encourages mutual respect among team members. Read our policy against discrimination and harassment here.

PSI is committed to serving all health consumers with respect, and strives for the highest standards of ethical behavior. PSI is dedicated to complying with the letter and spirit of all laws, regulations and contractual obligations to which it is subject, and to ensuring that all funds with which it is entrusted are used to achieve maximum impact on its programs. PSI provides exceptionally strong financial, operational and program management systems to ensure rigorous internal controls are in place to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse and ensure compliance with the highest standards. Essential to this commitment is protecting the safety and well-being of our program consumers, including the most vulnerable, such as women and children. PSI maintains zero tolerance for child abuse, sexual abuse, or exploitative acts or threats by our employees, consultants, volunteers or anyone associated with the delivery of our programs and services, and takes seriously all complaints of misconduct brought to our attention.


Diversity and Inclusion

PSI affirms its commitment to diversity and believes that when people feel respected and included they can be more honest, collaborative and successful. We believe that everyone deserves respect and equal treatment regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background or religious beliefs. Read our commitment to diversity and inclusion here. Plus, we’ve signed the CREED Pledge for Racial and Ethnic Equity. Learn more.


Gender Equality

PSI affirms gender equality is a universal human right and the achievement of it is essential to PSI’s mission. Read about our commitment to gender equality here.


01 #PeoplePowered

02 Breaking Taboos

03 Moving Care Closer to Consumers

04 Innovating on Investments

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